DimSwn - Cardiff - October 18 2014 (Live Review)

Thursday, 23 October 2014 Written by Dave Ball & Huw Baines

With its older sibling granted the year off, DimSŵn had some pretty big shoes to fill. Twelve months on from Sŵn scooping an NME award, for Best Small Festival, this one day event stepped into the breach as organisers set about reimagining things for 2015.

With sold out signs going up in the build-up and a genial atmosphere bouncing between Cardiff’s city centre venues, DimSŵn delivered not only a ferociously enjoyable day of music, but also a ringing endorsement for the city’s suitability for a festival like this.

It's quite something to pull off a multi-venue fest in one day without forcing people to scratch their heads to the bone over potential clashes and, with each of its venues within spitting distance of one another, DimSŵn kept the good stuff coming. The short intervals between sets proved little obstacle to the 500 folks who forked out for passes.

Kicking off the Horizons stage at Cardiff Fashion Quarter was 17-year-old Treherbert songstress Gabrielle Murphy, who floored the crowd with a voice and stage presence well beyond her tender years.

Backed by her father on guitar - who had picked up the entire set that morning as a late replacement for her ill six-stringer - she showed remarkable maturity and poise, while her soulful voice was straight out of the Motown playbook.

Downstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach, Wrexham's Seazoo were playing only their 10th live show. You'd never spot the inexperience though. They earned themselves a legion of new fans with a set packed to the brim with quirky indie pop reminiscent at times of Cake. Their new EP is due for release in early 2015.

At a sweltering Four Bars, nestled above Dempsey’s, Grumbling Fur rolled out their mix of loops, prog-pop melodies and instrumental adventure to an appreciative bunch, throwing in some first-rate monster impressions in the process. At the other end of the volume dial were Cardiff’s Luvv (pictured, top), who thrashed through a loud, pin-sharp set at Undertone, powered by a watertight rhythm section, bratty vocals and mighty guitar melodies.

Gwdihw hosted Titus Monk, who was playing solo rather than with his full band. His whisky-soaked vocals were duly front and centre and he opened the set with a stunning a capella version of Dock Boggs' Country Blues. If you didn't know better, you'd think Criccieth, his birthplace, was somewhere in the deep south of the US rather than rural north Wales. One of the finest showings of the day.

Back at Clwb Ifor Bach, The People The Poet put on a superb show in front of a packed house. Fresh from a well-deserved Welsh Music Prize nomination for their album, 'The Narrator', theirs was a set full of energy. This is a band primed for huge things in the near future.

The one major disappointment of the day then landed upstairs at Clwb Ifor Bach, as the Wytches​ (pictured, inset) promised an intense experience but too often drifted off course. When they lock into a groove they are a fierce proposition, but they couldn’t maintain that power throughout.

Jagaara took over Four Bars in the aftermath and, despite some lazy comparisons to Haim due to their sister act, they delivered plenty of catchy hooks, even if they could do with a little bit of bite to really grab the attention. Back at Undertone, meanwhile, Sheffield’s Best Friends pulled a decent crowd for a gig littered with scuzzy pop gems.

Back at Cardiff Fashion Quarter, Kizzy Crawford offered up another highlight. Performing a mixture of original songs in English and Welsh, she is a star in the making. Not only a great songwriter but also an experienced and polished performer, hers was a faultless set.

On the other side of Cardiff, Buffalo was the spot for north Wales' Golden Fable. Their hour long showing was packed full of floating synths and folky sensibilities, all tied together by Rebecca Palin's hushed vocals. Their latest record, currently being recorded in Snowdonia, is one to look out for. As, it has to be said, is Sŵn’s next step. What form the 2015 staging will take remains to be seen, but expectation will be high.

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